Kinder Morgan: Not in BC's Interest

Originally published in the Island Tides on February 2, 2017

The BC Liberal government has now approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project. They have stated that Kinder Morgan has met their five conditions and have added 37 new conditions with their approval.

I was an intervenor in the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings for the project. I can say from firsthand experience that the review process established by the Harper Government, and subsequently supported by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is not one in which British Columbians can have any confidence. The evidence was not tested, questions went unanswered, assurances were vague and often inaccurate.

With this decision comes a more than 500% increase in diluted bitumen transport through the Salish Sea. I have heard consistently from all communities that this project is a top concern, and so it should be. It threatens our coastline, our wildlife, our tourism industry and our quality of life.

At the very least, Kinder Morgan should have been expected to show that they can clean-up a dilbit spill to get approval. But they haven’t—because they can’t.

This is the result of a ‘get to yes no matter the costs’ approach to economic policy. We have a process that actively excluded communities and with mounting evidence that we do not have the capability to deal with a spill. And we hear the government say ‘don’t worry, Kinder Morgan will figure it out.’

Five Conditions

The BC Liberals promised that any heavy oil pipeline would have to meet their five conditions before it was granted.

Do we suddenly have a world-leading marine oil spill response ... no we do not.

Do we have world-leading practices for land- based oil spill prevention ... no we do not.

Have we addressed the legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights—definitely not.

Does a few million dollars each year give British Columbia a ‘fair share’, due to the high risk we are accepting—hardly.

‘No’ Last Year

A year ago the BC Liberal government said a firm ‘no’ in its final written submission to the NEB to this pipeline because it did not meet these conditions, now they have reversed course and approved it.

This is no way to build public confidence in a major industrial project. This approval has not only undermined our environment and the communities directly affected, it has undermined the role of science, our climate responsibilities, and all of the economic sectors that will be negatively impacted by industrializing the Salish Sea. This is irresponsible decision-making, plain and simple.

If we look to the future we know that we have to transition away from fossil fuels. Expanding this pipeline means extraction companies will be doing everything they can to fill it. This takes us in the completely wrong direction by investing in fossil fuel infrastructure that will last decades.

The 21st century is increasingly being powered by innovation and the creative economy. Instead of doubling down on the industries of the past, we need to be making investments in the future.

I have stood up for the interests of our riding throughout the NEB process and I will continue to stand up for the Salish Sea.

Adam Olsen

Stellys Cross Road, Brentwood Bay, BC, V8M 1J7